Thursday, August 21, 2008

Every head has its own headache

For a few years now I’ve suffered periods of chronic headaches (I know chronic is supposed to be “all the time”, and as such it can’t be periodical, but I don’t know how else to describe it). When it first happened, I had no idea what it was. My right eye got all bloodshot, and I had severe stabbing pains just slightly above and in front of my right temple.

I spent an afternoon at the emergency room, watching an endless parade of old men holding the hands of their dying wives, drug users zonked out of their minds and screaming incoherently, car crash victims, and so on. It was horrible and emotionally draining.

Finally some med student barely out of Anatomy 101 found the time to meet me, had me stand on one leg, made me touch the tip of my nose with my eyes closed, brushed my face with a feather, etc. At first they thought I had Horton’s, which is sometimes called “the suicide headache”.

After being bounced around between a few doctors, I finally ended up with a neurologist at Huddinge hospital, who is part of a team that work exclusively with headaches. The final diagnosis is that I have SUNCT (I’ve learned what the acronym stands for – Short-lasting, Unilateral, Neuralgiform headache attacks with Conjunctival injection and Tearing – but have yet to say it in full while drunk).

SUNCT manifests in a variety of ways. Some people suffer a few hours of attacks and then never feel it again, and some have it all their lives and no drugs help.

I don't like the drugs, but the drugs like me

For me it was periods of attacks, about two months at a time with dozens, sometimes up to a hundred short stabbing attacks every day. I had problems sleeping, couldn’t watch TV for a long time or sit by the computer. I read books, took walks. Cooked a lot. My neurologist prescribed me a few different drugs, before we tried Neurontin. It’s normally used as an enhancer drug for epileptics, when their regular meds can’t do the trick, but also has documented results for various kinds of nerve pains. Such as mine.

For a glorious list of possible side effects and such, go here.

The last time the attacks started was January of 2007. They still haven’t stopped. 19 months and counting. Whoop-de-fucking-do. I eat pills three times a day, at 08:00, 15:00 and 22:00, seven pills in total. 3+2+2.

I’ve had them for so long now that the headache feels like an integral part of me. Which is just sad. The pills go with me everywhere.

Today, while Googling around for Neurontin info I found out that it’s been linked to a couple of suicides in the States. At first I wrote this off as The Land of Law Suits nonsense, until I found this. For a few minutes I seriously considered not eating my pills tonight. Until I read the whole article. A 0.43 percent increase in suicidality. Ehm…hardly something to worry about. I hope.


EGE said...

Oh, man. 200+ pounds of beardy bald with a chronic headache? Remind me, if I'm ever in Sweden, that I re-he-he-heally don't want to get on your bad side!

(PS Sorry about your head. The ache part I mean. The beardy/baldy part is your own damn fault.)

beardonaut said...

My bad side would be the right, since that's where the pain is. So stay on my left and you'll be fine ;)

And thanks. And it is. And I stand by it.